Folders as "mules" - discuss

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The Deacon
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Postby The Deacon » Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:59 am

224477 wrote:Definitely interesting idea. I cant tell for the moment if I see myself as one of the potential customer, but I guess this would be interesting no doubt.

Paul, do you mean blades only, or whole knives (which are close to sprints in fact..) ?

Lets take the UKPK slippie in consideration - it would be nice to have a couple of handle scale material types (diffent colors of FRN, then G10, CF and possibly Ti - price would sing the song) and different types of steel for blades, possibly some blade shape variations too.

The customer would be able to click /setup/ his desired combination online which would be assembled upon paying the price and delivered later. (first come - first serve basis).
Truthfully Jano, I didn't mean anything in particular, mostly wanted to create a place to discuss this.

Sal has already commented that future Sprints of the FRN UKPK in different steels are a distinct possibility. So, to an extent, the "assembled folder" version of this is already a done deal.

If Spyderco was willing to sell them as kits, the blade and other parts could conceivably be sold separately, allowing one to economize by having multiple blades but only one handle. Not sure how many would go that route. Aside from that, the only cost you'd be saving by buying a kit would be labor. Open question on that would be how much less time would it take to inspect each kit to be sure it contained all the parts than to put a knife together. The difference may be surprisingly small. And, of course the biggest question would be whether they'd do it or not and, based on past threads proposing similar ideas, I'd expect not.
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Postby bh49 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:22 pm

jabba359 wrote:I'd love to see the upcoming Golden made Native 5 be the Mule knife. While the UKPK seems like a nice knife, I prefer my knives to have a lock. Make it screw construction (and maybe even without scales) so I can customize the handle in the spirit of the original FB Mule, and that would be excellent!
I will have fairly limited interest in folders as mule, even less interest if it is non-locking, more interest if I like overall design.
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Postby SaturnNyne » Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:24 pm

The Deacon wrote:Starting this in an attempt divert the hijack of the Casual Bombshell thread.
Good call.

The Deacon wrote:The knife would probably have to be fully assembled or, at the very least, a kit where all parts were supplied. Either would, as a general rule, add to the cost.
I'd envisioned it as just the blades, with the handles and hardware sold separately. That way, you have the option of buying a handle for each blade or just buying one or two handles and rotating the blades. Reduces materials cost for some; eliminates assembly cost.

I like the Mule idea, but the only one I've ever purchased was the 9Cr because it was so cheap that it could be a "why not" purchase. I've used it in the kitchen a bit, but it sure hasn't been "tested" in the spirit of the program; it's still on its factory edge after almost a year. It's just very hard for me to justify buying fixed blades, especially if they're not ready to go. Since I don't think I'm capable of making a sheath that's good enough to justify the effort, and I already have complete fixed blades ready to go, actually legally carrying my Mule means carrying it boxed in my hand. Needless to say, it doesn't leave my property often.

Sequimite wrote:when the Mule project started I asked Sal if they would do a folder blade that would be interchangeable with a production knife and he replied that they couldn't do that because of legal liability concerns and difficulty in fit between handles made in one batch and blades made in different batches, so I think we're talking about a finished knife with the current Mule blade steel.
That's disappointing. A completed UK Mule would still be good, but it seems less in the spirit of the original, and of course a little more costly. Still, the project began a long time ago, I wonder if the interchangeability side of it still applies so completely now, since the FRN UK seems to be so simple as far as fitment. Liability is something else again.

The General wrote:To be fair, the blade shape would be best as a scaled down version of the Mule IMHO. I see it as the Spyderco blade shape anyway.

To my eyes its almost as much of a trademark as the SpyderHole.
I think the UK's drop point shape is a more useful and effective tool for most uses, but I must admit this is a good point. The leaf shape just screams Spyderco.

Ben_1323 wrote:I think the current fixed blade platform makes more sense for testing purposes. A small folding knife, especially a non-locker, would be more difficult to put to hard use and learn about its edge retention, toughness, etc.
True, but it's about equally true that a fixed blade is more difficult to put to EDC use and learn about its qualities under realistic circumstances. Clearly both is better than either one alone.

Joe Internet wrote:My understanding of the mule team concept is that it allows people to try new steels, with the idea that it generates real world feedback for Spyderco. This feedback helps them with developing future products.
That's the idea, but I kind of have doubts about how successful it's been in gathering feedback. I don't recall ever seeing a thread where someone compared every Mule to date. Actually, I don't think I can remember a comparison of more than two of them at a time. The vast majority of the Mule reports I hear have to do with the pretty scales and sheaths that have been added, not the performance of the steel that's being tested. I get the feeling that the Mule project has been of great value as a platform for modders but of negligible value as the feedback tool it was originally intended to be for Spyderco. A more affordable folding Mule with less "pimpability" might, peradventure, improve that side of things.
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Postby npueppke » Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:24 pm

The way I see it, the issue is that this encourages the disassembly of knives, which Spyderco does not endorse/encourage/it voides your warranty/etc. How about trying to develop a new kind of system for handle disassembly? How about a tool-less pivot adjustment? (I could see it being something like a screw with a ring through it to use as the 'handle'-which would just fold flat when you have it adjusted.) Then perhaps make it a friction folder or something to reduce complexity, maybe no bushings so that you don't need to take the rest of the handle apart to change blades-the handle could even be pinned. I'm just thinking outloud, it might be crazy, but I just don't think you could use any old Spyderco and sell it without a blade. It would have to be simple enough that anybody could assemble it, and I also think it would have to be differentiated from other systems in some way.

Yeah, I just don't see how this can be done with any other type of lock. Maybe, maybe a liner lock, but even that's not exactly a piece of cake to put together.

I feel like something where a blade could 'snap in' and 'snap out', if it's possible, would be the way to go.

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Postby SaturnNyne » Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:32 pm

npueppke wrote:How about trying to develop a new kind of system for handle disassembly? How about a tool-less pivot adjustment? (I could see it being something like a screw with a ring through it to use as the 'handle'-which would just fold flat when you have it adjusted.)....
I was thinking about the possibility of maybe introducing a handle that would basically be the FRN UK handle but without the hollow for the blade to fold into. This would allow the two scale pieces to be easily snapped on and bolted in place, without a need to fight with any spring tension. It'd become a small and very simple fixed blade for testing purposes, but could also be turned into a regular UK with the normal handle. But this would require either a new FRN mold or some kind of new inserts to go between the current one, so the cost would be prohibitive.
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Postby Niles » Mon Sep 27, 2010 3:26 pm

I'm pretty new to the mule knife concept, so I admit to not understanding it very well. But it seems like, as with most "sprint" or limited runs, lot's of these knives aren't turned into users. I don't know if that's an accurate impression or not, but it does seem like if the Mule concept was adapted to folders, and made in a bit larger quantities, they might get more of a test.

I'm all for the folder Mule concept. I think this would be really cool, and it would definitely see more use than a fixed blade on my end.

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Postby WORKER#9 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:57 pm

I liked the original Mule concept. I never bought one as I have tried a lot of steels over the years and find for my meager uses anything with a good heat treat will work. I will say that all the Mules I have seen on the secondary market have had some really nice handles put on them by end users and even custom knife makers. All in all I think it was a very cool program.

I kind of like the folder idea as I would be more likely to check it out or maybe participate. As a California boy I can't really carry a fixed blade due to the law. I could not imagine how to execute it at a low price point, but a flat ground Wharncliff would be a cool blade shape for a test folder.

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Postby HotSoup » Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:11 pm

I'm for it.
I never bought a Mule and never will because I'd have to make a handle (or cordwrap, but thats easy) and make a sheath, which is the hard part. I don't have the skills/resources to do it.

I cant speak for Spyderco, but hopefully with a folding Mule, they can use a smaller blade, less steel essentially, which will cost less, but use a cheap handle, like the FRN UKPK, which they already have a mold for, and I assume the the FRN isn't very expensive at all.

I can still see the folder being more expensive than the fixed blade, but it will also open up the Mule project to more people, like me, who have no interest or ability with a handle and sheath-less fixed blade.

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Postby PocketZen » Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:51 pm

To throw in my two cents I really have no interest in non-locking folder. I love the current mule team philosophy. Fixed blade, no handle, no sheath, fantastic steel option. If I really like the steel or really like a specific model I can purchase accordingly... Still wish I had the M4 Mule.

However, I am hopeful that Spyderco will continue to utilize feedback from the mule testers and put some wonderful steels into play. Sprint runs of CPMS90V to M4 GB. JMHO

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Postby MCM » Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:04 pm

How about a new 3 3/4" linerlock model without a blade.
Simple / beefy model that's designed to be disassembled / re-assembled.
That way, blades could be swapped with ease.
The non bladed knife could be sold year round, blades would be sprint runs.
Just a thought.
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Postby The Mastiff » Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:39 am

Paul, I personally find folders easier to use and without doubt they get more pocket and cutting time in comparison to a fixed blade, no matter how perfect that blade is.

I'm not complaining about the mule team the way it is though. It's a wonderful thing Sal has done for us steel junkies.

I agree your choice of folders is a sound one in the spirit of keeping costs bare bones.
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Postby HellHound » Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:50 am

I'm thinking the tenacious is pretty much a folding mule. The shape is very simular, maybe with a thicker blade it would be a true mule :)
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Postby Creepo » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:01 am

I too don't find the idea very doable. Yea It's be cool alright, just not worth it IMO. Too many loose ends and variables with all the reasons mentioned already.
The current Mule is great if you're a real steel junkie and wan't to test the steel hard. But for more realistic EDC testing and using I would prefer a mini-Mule. Say a sub-3" blade with a 3-4 finger handle? :D

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Postby ChrisR » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:05 am

Would be nice to hear from Sal on this one ... there is a lot of support from people willing to carry a SLIPIT Mule and test the steels under EDC, rather than the limited testing that a fixed-blade can receive :) But without Sal I'm not sure if it is a non-starter or not ... there could be a technical or commercial reason why it wouldn't work.
My spydies: Squeak, Tenacious, Terzuola, D'Allara, UKPK CF peel-ply pre-production, UKPK CF smooth pre-production, UKPK G10 orange leaf-blade, UKPK FRN grey drop-point, UKPK FRN maroon leaf-blade, Bug ... all PE blades :)

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Postby wongKI » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:53 am

Mule folder will be beyond awesome.

Fixed knives have little utility for me beyond kitchen work, but folders (especially 3in, non locking ones) have loads of it. I would very much welcome a supersteel UKPK, and would certainly be able to get more use (And review space) out of it.

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Postby ChrisR » Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:21 am

Fixed blade Mule Teams appeal to people who can add handles and those guys tend to know quite a bit about steels ... but I wonder how much actual, real-world testing & feedback reaches Spyderco? For sure, if I had a variety of UKPKs all made in different steels I'd be able to compare them on a daily basis for wear and also resharpening. :)
My spydies: Squeak, Tenacious, Terzuola, D'Allara, UKPK CF peel-ply pre-production, UKPK CF smooth pre-production, UKPK G10 orange leaf-blade, UKPK FRN grey drop-point, UKPK FRN maroon leaf-blade, Bug ... all PE blades :)


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